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  • Writer's pictureunkillbilly

Hurry Up and Wait

Unblog 4120 Hurry Up and Wait

Not sure if I've shared this with you. I'm an older man. I'll have sixty-three years in July. While there are some detriments to getting/being older, none have surprised me more than the Constant Acceleration of Time.

What is that? It's a perception, mostly peripheral, that every day is getting shorter. The perception is one of speed. Going fast. Minutes, hours, days fly by and I look up and ten years have got behind me.

I can't tell you how many times I've said, "It's Sunday again? How did that happen? I've been paying attention…"

Have I told you I don't like speed?

I know, weird, who doesn't like speed? That feeling, a physical sensation, of moving quickly across the Landscape of Time. Like being in a muscle car, pushing the accelerator and feeling your body pressed backwards into the seat. All the wilddicks I grew up with were into speed, whether it was downhill skiing or a jet ski or an aircraft, the sensation of speed was a desirable thing.

Just not with me.

So, this goin' faster thang is not making me happy.

I've tried to slow down. Fought the compulsion to pick up the pace. When mom was living at Brookdale and first started using a walker, I had to consciously tell myself to slow down. As a practical matter, I was able to throttle back. What I wasn't expecting was the break I got mentally from slowing down. Going slower meant less stress. Who couldn't do with less stress?

It's my belief the need for speed is a holdover from my days in manufacturing, where speed was always a desirable factor. In my mind there is value associated with speed: Quality. The faster you can get it done, the less it costs, the more income, etc.


While I was running the warehouse in Tucson, I learned an excellent lesson about time and speed.

The factory had begun to produce much greater quantities of integrated circuits, and thus the flow to/through the warehouse quickened. I won't go into the logistical nuances like Inventory Turns and Material Handling Velocity, suffice to say the company wanted all those additional chips out the door to customers as fast as possible. My folks in the warehouse made a conscious effort to go faster—and somehow, it was taking longer and longer to process materials. What I found was the effort to speed was producing more errors, which had to be reworked. When I realized what was going on, I convinced all my operators to slow down! With mistakes eliminated we were meeting factory objectives and the Warehouse was recognized by top management.

By slowing down—we made it look like we were going a lot faster!

Still, speed is good is the mantra of many.

I mean, look at Amazon. For them, speed definitely equals quality. The singular focus on reducing delivery times has made a lot of customers very happy. (Most people don't think about the costs associated with that drive to speed, not the least of which is a gigantic carbon footprint.) Society encourages everyone to hurry up every little chance you get.

That hasn't helped with the Constant Acceleration of Time. With the environment already wired for maximum speed, the perceptual phenomenon of going faster is less obvious. Of course, in the past I've said things like, "Is it already Christmas?" Or otherwise marveled for a moment at the quickening pace.

Not like now, when every day I wake up and say, "Holy Crap, it's the middle of the week!"

And when you're runnin' out of real estate, those flashing moments become more precious, putting a magnifying glass on the unwinding of time.

I'm not sure if it has the capacity to arrest the Constant Acceleration of Time, but there is something going on on the planet called the Slow Movement. Perhaps you've herd of Slow Food, or Slow Living, but there's a wide spectrum of life that is being nudged toward a Slow approach. (There's everything from Slow Gardening to Slow Fashion!) It appears that even something so narrowly focused as the various silos of Slow offers practical benefits. People report feeling better after slowing down.

I support the Slow movement, and I'm an advocate for its widespread adoption.

It's just not helping (yet).

Okay, okay, I haven't been working that hard on slowing down. But when I woke up this morning, and thought to myself the world is just going too fast…I knew I needed to do something. And that something turns out to be…nothing. I need to come to full stop. Take a deep breath. Look down the timeline and show some courage!

A parting thought…if the pandemic turns out as bad as I think it's going to…we may see things get a lot slower—in a hurry!

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